Article and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Here are ten questions with SDSG Conservative provincial candidate Jim McDonell. This article is the third in a series of interviews with local candidates to help voters make a more informed decision when voting. The Ontario provincial election takes place on June 7th, 2018.
1 – Tell us about your background, why you’re running in this election, and why you would be the best choice to represent SDSG?
I was raised on a mixed farm in South Glengarry and graduated in engineering at Queen’s. I worked as a professional engineer at Bell Canada for 32 years. I have volunteered in some organizations, including Border Hockey League Exec, Char-Lan Minor Hockey – Coach and Exec, Char-Lan Minor Soccer – Coach and Exec, the Williamstown Fair, and Glengarry Kinsmen. I was elected to Council in South Glengarry in 1994 and held positions of Councillor and Mayor for 18 years, sitting on many different committees until elected as a PC MMP in 2011.
During my time in municipal government, I worked with both the Harris PC and McGuinty Liberal governments. The PC government worked with us to address our issues and create positive change. The Liberal government proved not to be a partner of municipalities, especially rural and small towns. They cut our Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding; they tried to end farmer’s markets and church suppers, they made operating a business or community festival very difficult, and they increased the responsibilities and cost of local government, while reducing their financial help. We needed to get back to basics where the government is there for its people. I found it so wrong to ignore the science when making important decisions in our province.
I believe I have a solid background in local government, local community organizations and the business world. As an engineer, I believe my education and training have prepared me to analyze the problems facing us today and look for the best solutions to make our province the leader in Canada again, not the “Have Not” province we have become.
2 – What do you think is the most important provincial concern for the people living in the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry?
I see people in our office struggling to maintain their homes and pay their bills. Life has truly become unaffordable under this government. The key is to bring back good paying jobs. The Liberals have chased them away, and the NDP will keep them away.
3 – What is the PC plan for hydro? How do you feel the Liberals have handled this issue thus far?
We believe that our energy plans must be based on sound economic and scientific principles. The Liberal government ignored basic principles, jeopardized our hydro system and drove up the cost of electricity to a point where consumers and businesses cannot afford it – the highest price in North America.
We would leverage the lower cost power sources that we have today and look to get out of any of the high priced contracts where final approval has not been granted or where it is cheaper to buy them out versus paying overpriced prices for the next 20 to 30 years.
4 – What investments need to be made regarding public transit? Also, does your party have a green strategy?
We have committed to adding an additional $5 billion of transit investment to the current Liberal spending commitment. For most of our riding of Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry, our transit system is our road network. A PC Party has also committed to making more money available to municipalities by restoring the $70 million cut made by the current government to OMPF funding. We have also committed to expanding Hwy 401 to six lanes to Hwy 416. Our green strategy involves working with the major economies to develop a measurable and effective plan to accommodate climate change. We can not do it alone as our province will end up bankrupt, unable to afford future technologies and we will not have achieved any measurable benefits. Most of the major countries have withdrawn from the Paris Accord commitments, and the major polluters of China and India were not included in any reduction targets. The Wynne Liberal’s Cap and Trade plan withdraws billions of dollars from Ontario’s economy and sends it to California. The closing of Ontario’s coal-fired plants was started by the former PC government with a realistic completion date of 2014. Although the Liberal government ridiculed the commitment and promised to close all plants by 2007, then by 2011, they finally met the original PC commitment of 2014. People want realistic policies and an honest government.
5 – Will your party raise or lower taxes and for whom? How will your party’s tax policy impact families, seniors, and small businesses? How will your party’s tax policies impact job growth and/or disposable income for workers?
A PC Government will put money back in people’s pockets. We will eliminate provincial income tax on minimum wage earners, cut taxes to the middle-income group by up to $786 per year, cancel the cap and trade carbon tax, reduce hydro bills by an additional 12%, cut the price of gas by 10 cents, provide dental care for our seniors, and provide a 75% rebate on childcare costs for children up to age of 15 years old,up to $6750 per year. Our cuts will stimulate the economy to provide more good-paying jobs for our youth.
6 – Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour next year?
Our PC Party has committed to spreading the remainder of the increase over four years and removing the provincial income tax from those on minimum wage, giving them up to an additional $850 /year. As predicted by the experts, over 30,000 jobs were lost in January due to the minimum wage increase, and we all know that people do not benefit from a minimum wage increase if they don’t have a job. The province already utilizes the income tax system to help low-income earners, and we believe it is the best way to supplement wages, without the loss of more jobs.
7 – How will your party improve healthcare? Will your party consider privatization of health services, and if so, which ones? Will your party make prescriptions more affordable for working people?
There is a crisis in healthcare, as the Liberal government has poured money into the bureaucracy and not into front-line care. We have also seen hospital budgets secretly frozen for four years, while patients experience long emergency room wait times. A PC Government has committed to sitting down with health professions and reviewing systems around the country and the world that are getting better results, to fix our broken system. We have also committed to restoring the medical residencies that were cut by Wynne Liberals and that are restricting the number of available doctors. The lack of available Long Term Care beds has resulted in approximately 20% of Ontario’s hospital beds to be blocked by patients needing alternative care. A PC Gov’t will add 15,000 new beds in the first five years and a total of 30,000 beds over the next decade.
A PC Government is not considering additional privatization of any health care services.
A PC government will continue to build on current prescription services and make more options available. Under the current system, bureaucrats are making health care decisions, not the patient’s doctor.
8 – What investments need to be made in education? Second, should more be done to make post-secondary education more affordable to everyone?
Last year, just after the UCDSB issued their report recommending the closing of numerous public schools across our region, I tabled a motion calling for a moratorium on any closures until the ministry had completed a study on education and funding in rural and small-town Ontario and that parents, teachers, municipalities, and the public be consulted. On March 7, 2017, we debated it as a PC Opposition Day Motion, and the Liberal majority voted it down. Education is key to Ontario’s future, and this review needs to be completed.
The Wynne Liberals contribute the least amount of funds per capita in Canada to post-secondary education. The current so-called free tuition is a great sound bite, but when you do the calculations, it doesn’t come close in most cases. For example, from the ministry calculator, an engineering student with two parents earning a combined $86,000 would receive $4,500 in grants. The calculator prices tuition at $13,239 and a total cost of $26,559. (tuition, books + living costs). The Liberal promises do not match reality.
A PC Government would properly fund our institutions and allow for easier transfer of credits between institutions, so students have the flexibility to change programs without being forced to start over.
9 – How would you describe the legacy of the current Kathleen Wynne government?
The Wynne Liberal legacy has been a disaster for Ontario. They have driven up the cost of electricity by 300% and increased costly regulation to the point where Ontario is now the highest cost jurisdiction for businesses in North America, chasing 300,000 good paying jobs from Ontario to our neighbours. They has doubled our taxes and fees, making life unaffordable for many, especially for people on fixed incomes. Our healthcare faces long wait times, and 50% of our children are not meeting current math standards. I believe people will remember her most for deliberate and continued concealment of information from the legislature and the public. She has buried revisions in omnibus bills that have removed the oversight of the Auditor-General, the Financial Accountability Officer and the Ontario Energy Board. Like the previous McGuinty Government, we see lawsuits accusing the Wynne government destroying government records. Her government has been anything but open and transparent.
10 – What is your biggest concern about having Kathleen Wynne or Andrea Horwath as Premier of Ontario? Second, why would Doug Ford be the best choice for the Premier of Ontario?
Both Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath would continue to expand government and run up debt and taxes until we return to the days of the Bob Rae’s NDP government, where government employees were forced to take days off without pay. Neither of them would make the basic changes necessary to reduce the cost of living and create an environment to bring back good-paying jobs, as Ontario has become the highest cost jurisdiction in North America to run a business. The Wynne Liberals are responsible for Ontario having the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country and leaving few opportunities for our children.
As Doug Ford has committed that the party with the taxpayer’s money is over. An Ontario PC government only owes its allegiance to the people of Ontario and will ensure our health care is funded to the levels necessary to end hallway health care and eliminate the long wait lists used to ration health care. We will make life affordable for everyone by lowering energy costs, reducing income taxes on the low and middle-income Ontarians and reducing expensive, time-consuming red-tape regulations to encourage entrepreneurs to build their futures here in Ontario and help small and medium businesses to grow. We will conduct a review of education to ensure it meets the needs of our students and our communities. We would make the investments required to secure a prosperous future, where Ontario becomes Canada’s economic powerhouse once again, and is no longer a “Have Not” province.